John Hume reacts to a night of violence in Derry, and highlights the need for the British government to take action in the hunger strike.

Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume appeals for the British government to meet hunger striker Bobby Sands at Long Kesh prison.

John Hume believes that failure to act by the government will cost far more to the community and the government itself.

The situation in Derry is very serious.

After a night of violence in Derry, two young people Gary English and James Browne were killed when they were struck by a speeding Land Rover during rioting. John Hume describes the army's behaviour as reckless and irresponsible leading directly to the death of two people. He calls for the authorities to respond and for the guilty parties to be brought to justice.

This community has long and bitter experience. The only people to suffer in riot situations are our own people.

John Hume appeals to the young people of Derry to show their own leadership and commitment to their own community by having nothing to do with such violence.

People don't go out to peaceful demonstrations with petrol bombs prepared.

He acknowledges that the tension caused by the hunger strike crisis and in particular the imprisonment of Bobby Sands has fuelled the violence. There is tension in the community feels about the lack of resolution for the whole situation.

John Hume has already made an appeal to Bobby Sands to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights. However, the appeal was turned down. He says that the British government needs to intervene and send a representative in to talk to Bobby Sands. John Hume also believes that the question of clothing and free association in the wings of Long Kesh need to be addressed.

It is the duty of government to govern and to act particularly when it can take action which involves no sacrifice of principle because the cost of inaction, the cost of doing nothing in these circumstances is higher both to the community and to the government.

Three TDs from the Republic intervened by visiting Bobby Sands in Long Kesh. Following their visit the TDs requested a meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Their request was denied which comes as no surprise to John Hume.

The central issue is that somebody should be talking to Sands himself.

This episode of 'Today Tonight' was broadcast on 21 April 1981.